Portrait of Mark Bowden under some lights
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Biography

Mark Bowden is a composer of chamber, orchestral and vocal music. His work has been described as ‘an exceptional and absorbing pleasure’ [The Guardian], ‘conjuring up magic and mystery’ [Opera], ‘invigorating’ [The Times] and ‘powerfully dramatic’ [BBC Radio 3].

Mark received the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in 2006 for his first orchestral commission, Sudden Light (BBC Symphony Orchestra). Further orchestral commissions followed before the BBC National Orchestra of Wale appointed him Resident Composer in 2011. This five-year relationship resulted in a series of major works including a cello concerto (Lyra); a percussion concerto (Heartland); and a 40-minute cantata for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra (A Violence of Gifts). More recent orchestral works include Three Interludes commissioned by Welsh National Opera, Sapiens, a saxophone concerto commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, and Outside commissioned BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Mark’s catalogue of chamber and vocal music includes Voices on the Air (Uproar), The Breaking Wheel for clarinet and piano (Little Missenden Festival), Five Memos for violin and piano (London Music Masters), Parable for solo saxophone (London Sinfonietta), Lines Written a Few Miles Below for violin and electronics, (Rambert Dance Company), We Have Found a Better Land (BBC National Chorus of Wales), The Soul Candle, for baritone and piano. Mark has also created vocal works for the stage including The Mare’s Tale for narrator and ensemble (Arts Council of Wales) and The Song of Rhiannon an opera for children. His abiding interest in dance has resulted in much collaboration with choreographers.

Born in South Wales in 1979, Mark studied composition at Huddersfield University and the Royal College of Music. He continued his training at Dartington and on the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. Mark has enjoyed residencies and fellowships with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rambert Dance Company, Aldeburgh Music, Handel House Museum, Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, the Visby International Centre for Composers in Sweden, and the MacDowell Colony in the US. Mark was chair of the British Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 2014-2018 and Director of Composition at Royal Holloway from 2007-2022. In 2017, the University of London awarded him the title of Professor of Composition and in 2022 he was appointed to a personal chair at the Royal College of Music. In 2016 Mark won a British Composer Award for Five Memos and in 2019 his saxophone concerto Sapiens was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award. Mark is currently writing his first full-length opera for Welsh National Opera, which will premiere in the 2024/25 season.

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